By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE March 23, 2004 On Saturday, a creel full of fly fishing enthusiasts and fly tyers got together to swap a lot more than a bunch of tall tales about the wily trout that got away or the one that was joyfully reeled in at the end on a line.
As members of The Catskill Fly Tyers Guild held their annual swap meet at the Rockland House in Roscoe, they swirled around the room renewing old friendships forged on the banks of local streams and rivers, exchanging fly tying materials or perhaps a word or two of advice on how to tie the worlds best dry fly.
The Catskill Fly Tyers Guild was formed to promote the type of flies used to catch trout, the way it was used in the Catskills from the1890s right up through the 1960s, said guild president Hank Rope.
We use natural materials and patterns like they did back then, he added.
Rope started fishing at the age of about six or seven out on Long Island, and hasnt failed to wet a line since then.
Today, hes a New York State-licensed fishing guide operating Big Indian Guide Service, which features The Catskills Finest Fishing.
He said the annual swap meet was a chance for folks to trade some feathers used in making flies, pick up a book on trout fishing, or in the case they didnt have anything to swap, sometimes a few dollars changes hands.
So whats the allure of casting lures into a stream?
Its the total environment when youre on a stream, said Rope. Its a great way to spend a day out in nature.
The guild was formed in 1993 through the diligent efforts of Floyd Franke and Matthew Vinciguerra, with the mission of preserving the history and tradition of the Catskills-style dry fly for future generations of fly fishermen.
In 1997, the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild published a small handout titled Favorite River & Favorite Flies, in which members were surveyed to compile a list of what works best on a particular body of flowing water.
With years of fly fishing experience comes the ability to declare ones favorite river, said editor Bill Leuszler in introducing the work of words, maps and sketches.
Whether it be the scenic appeal of the river, the size of the fish it holds or the number of fish caught, there is usually a river that we turn to every year, Leuszler added. This river becomes a home for us, as we are familiar with its corners and its secrets.
Favorite rivers listed include: Willowemoc Creek, Beaverkill River, the Delaware River, (along with its East and West Branches), Neversink River and Esopus Creek.
Linda Reper of Bellville, NJ is a member of the local fly tyers guild.
As she made the rounds of the tables filled with fly tying materials, Reper stopped to pick up some chicken feathers from famed fly tyer Dr. Alan Fried of Roscoe.
I was losing a lot of flies when I first started fishing, Reper recalled. So I took a few lessons and learned how to tie Catskill-style flies.
Kenneth Mears of Livingston Manor is one of the old timers of local fly fishing.
He said hes been wetting a line with dry flies for about 50 years, after a friend named Richie Dell got me into fishing.
Thirty-some years ago, Mears began tying his own flies.
Its tedious but interesting, he said, adding his favorite of favorites is the Cream Varient.
His take on fly fishing in the rivers of the Catskills?
Its great fun, replied Mears with a grin.